Sir Alex Ferguson has once again called for a winter break, claiming Germany's hugely successful national side offers the perfect example of what could be achieved with a two-week January shutdown

The Manchester United manager has been a firm advocate of such a move throughout his time at Old Trafford. Yet his pleas, and those of other senior managers in the game, have constantly fallen on deaf ears.

But the decision of the game's authorities to extend this season's domestic programme until the end of May has created an opportunity for future years which Ferguson is eager to take advantage of. He said: "International matches are played during the first two weeks of June anyway so why don't we use that period until the end of May when the weather is better."

Although he admits there is no evidence to back up his theory, Ferguson feels the TV companies are one of the major obstacles as it would leave them without football in their schedules at a time when viewing figures tend to increase following the Christmas festivities.

Ferguson's fervent belief, backed up by evidence from UEFA's medical department, is that the failure to incorporate a winter break into the English game causes injuries, most of which flare up in March when players who have continued through minor strains suddenly find they are suffering something more serious.

"Managers have always voiced their opinions in favour of a winter break," said Ferguson.

"The trouble is players carry their strains right through January, then when you get to March it turns into an injury of significance.

"A couple of years back we had four or five injuries in March which could be the result of something like that."

While it is only a side issue as far as Ferguson is concerned, he points to Germany's success on the international stage and the fact the Bundesliga traditionally shuts down for three weeks.

"Germany always do well in the World Cup," he observed. "I don't want to be critical of them because I admire what they have achieved in international football."

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